Of the 72 commandments contained in the portion Ki Teitze, we find the following to be pretty straightforward. When building a house one is supposed to build a parapet around the roof to ensure that no one falls off, for if someone were to get injured the owner would be liable. Though most building codes in America would agree it is fascinating that such a law was established 3,000 years ago to ensure the safety and security of all.
Yet like all laws in the Torah this can also be understood in a metaphorical sense. When we state an opinion, for example, we should make sure we have all the facts straight so that "no one falls off" or is led astray by our comments. The law of building a parapet can then apply to anything we say or do so that we maintain justice and righteousness in the community.
I thought of this interpretation after I experienced two very opposing points of view by very important policy makers this past week. On Wednesday August 26 I attended the 2nd annual AIPAC sponsored Rabbinic conference. The goal of the conference is to provide the most up to the minute news about Israel and to encourage rabbis to speak truth to power about Israel. Of course with the impending vote in Congress about the Iran Nuclear Agreement that was the focus of the conference.
All speakers - ranging from AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr to Ambassador Dennis Ross to Israeli journalist and author Yossi Klein Halevi - spoke against the agreement. They provided opinions based on their understanding of the facts that the agreement puts Israel's very existence at risk. With this agreement Iran will have the ability to acquire nuclear arms capability in a short time and then it would be able to follow through on its mission to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
On Friday afternoon August 28 I watched President Obama speak to the American Jewish community on a live webcast. He too was quite passionate and stated how he - the President of the United States - could imagine that if he lived in Sderot (on the border with Gaza) or if his grandparents survived the Holocaust and moved to Israel - that he would be very concerned with this agreement with Iran. Yet he said that Israel is part of the family. Though family members sometimes have disagreements in the end they are still family and Israel's security is paramount. Also President Obama claimed that the agreement has teeth and in fact forces Iran to dismantle its large centrifuges and prevents Iran form gaining nuclear arms capabilities.
So who do we believe? Which side will prevent us from falling off the roof? Which opinion is based on fact and truth? I don't have the answer. I do know that Israel's security is our number one priority and we must advocate for that with all our power. Let's read the proposed agreement carefully and then support either side - as long as Israel's existence is not at risk.